Category Archives: asian-american

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As An Asian-American, Here’s Why Bruce Lee Still Matters

By Guest Contributor Kevin Wong, cross-posted from Complex

This week Bruce Lee made his HD debut on EA Sports UFC as a pre-order bonus — or, if you beat the game on Professional Difficulty, as an unlockable. The results, thankfully, are impressive. The developers have Bruce’s face and body structure down, but more importantly, they’ve captured his little mannerisms—the nervous tic where he rubs his nose, the stance when he lets loose with a signature punch or kick, and the scowl on his face when he approaches the Octagon.

UFC fighters, in their promotions of the game, have fallen over themselves to praise Bruce Lee. They speak reverently of him—he’s a childhood hero, an inspiration for how to lead one’s life, a warrior that all other fighters should aspire to. Dana White refers to him as the founder of mixed martial arts, and although this claim smacks of hyperbole, it has some merit. Bruce was someone who valued practicality over form—he disliked the traditional arts’ reliance on stances, believing that these things were too stiff, and thus, predictable. Instead, Bruce believed in Jeet Kune Do — the “Way of the Intercepting Fist.” It was a philosophy that encouraged formlessness — what was flexible and applicable in a “real life’”situation.
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ABC’s “Fresh off the Boat” could be a disaster for Asian Americans

By Kevin Wong, cross-posted from Salon

I can’t speak for all Asian Americans, but personally, whenever I see a new Asian face on television, I panic. My blood pressure goes through the roof. There’s a vague unease and anxiety, even before the character opens his or her mouth. Because I’m ready to see yet another shticky Asian stereotype.

Some of the questions running through my mind: Is this Asian a main character? Does this Asian character have an arc? If the Asian character is a woman, does she have an Asian significant other? If the Asian character is a man, does he even have a significant other? Does this Asian man have sex, in a non-comedic fashion?

Or I worry that the Asian character is “too good” – an overcorrection for political correctness. There’s an ironic flaw to perfection – it doesn’t allow for the quirks that make a character compelling. Every American minority group has this stock, “perfect” caricature: for Asian Americans, it’s the Model Minority – the hardworking, emasculated genius. He’s the support for the protagonist, but never the protagonist himself.
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Jenny Yang’s ‘If Asians Said The Stuff White People Say’ A Fast Online Hit

By Arturo R. García

In just four days, comedian Jenny Yang’s “If Asians Said The Stuff White People Say” has amassed more than two million views on YouTube. It helps, of course, that it’s been buoyed by being on Buzzfeed. But the video is strong on its own merits, as well; it’s a sharp successor to the “Sh*t [x] Say” realm of clips because it turns up the awkwardness.

The preview image, with Yang making her eyes “rounder” as a visibly uncomfortable white guy looks on, sets the stage for her and co-star Eugene Yang’s antics, set to “Home On The Range,” inflicting a barrage of microaggressions at their companions. (“Do you have a normal name, too? Or just your white name?”)

“I just love dating white guys,” she tells one guy. “Because they’re so large and overbearing.” In another “romantic” scene, Eugene smoothly tells a white woman, “You know, I’m really into white girls. Just white girls,” only to protest, “Where you going?” as she runs.

Yang is also co-host of the Angry Asian America webseries on ISA with Phil Yu (aka AngryAsianMan) and co-produces the Asian-American comedy showcase Dis/orient/ed project, which is playing Los Angeles on July 12. Yang shared the origin of the group with Bitch Magazine last fall:

Well, when you first start out as a standup, at least for me, it feels very solitary. And so what I realized is that if I didn’t organize something with like-minded people, I wouldn’t find those people, because we’re just grinding it out on our own.

And so after I had been doing it for about a year, I had noticed the different Asian-American female comics as well as female comics and comics of color who were out doing things. So actually I had a lot of camaraderie with white female comics, but I definitely made note of when there were Asian-American female comics. So much so that I found an article about a woman named Yola Lu. Yola had just graduated from the University of Washington and was just starting out doing standup comedy, and there was this coverage of her. I was like, “Oh, this sounds like someone I want to meet.” And I literally just Google stalked her, and found her, and she was super cool, and I was like, “Hey, I just want to know what you’re doing, because I’m doing it.” And we actually ended up doing a little Skype date just to get to know one another. And we hit it off! And just half-joking at the end of that Skype chat, we were like, “Oh, wouldn’t it be great if we had enough critical mass of Asian-American female comics that we could do a whole tour of just us?” Like, someday, someday.

A few months later, she emailed me and she was like, “Jenny, remember how you were saying about that tour? I kept on thinking about it and I feel like we should just do it.” She instigated it, and we sat down and really thought about what it would look like. Then we recuited a good buddy of mine in LA, Atsuko Okatsuka. That created the initial trio of us who founded the tour.

Yang also shared more of her story in this clip from The Always Summer Project:

“I got to a point where I realized, in my professional career, in politics, which is my main career, it wasn’t really fulfilling me as much,” she said. “I kind of had this moment of like, ‘I’m a writer. I’m a performer. I need to take myself seriously, rather than dismiss it.’”

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Lifting the Barbie Ban: The Weird Ways We Help Our Kids Navigate Race

By Guest Contributor Theresa Celebran Jones, cross-posted from Hyphen Magazine

A few weeks ago, as I was putting my kids to bed, my older one, in an effort to avoid sleep, said to me, “Mommy, blonde is my favorite color of hair. I wish my hair was blonde.”

Before freaking out, I asked her why, and her reply was simple. “Blonde is the prettiest.”

I took a moment to gather myself. This was not a discussion I could have with her right before bedtime. I said to her, “I don’t really agree with that, but we can talk about it in the morning.”
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‘Ahead of her time’: Yuri Kochiyama (1921-2014)

By Arturo R. García

Yuri Kochiyama, whose pursuit of social justice exemplified intersectionality as much as it did longevity, passed away on Sunday in California. She was 93.

“She was definitely ahead of her time, and we caught up with her,” relative Tim Toyama told NPR last year.

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Quoted: Reappropriate On Fighting Misogyny in Asian-American communities

I have been routinely accused – often by these very same Asian American misogynists – of having a problem with Asian American men. Let me be clear: I don’t have a problem with Asian American men. I firmly believe in the political uplift of Asian American men, and the dismantling of institutionalized Asian American emasculation.

I just think that our definition of masculinity – specifically, our uncritical embrace of mainstream misogylinity – is flawed.

Misogylinity – masculinity defined by sexual conquest, or what the seduction community calls the “game” – is fundamentally misogynist; it is also heterosexist and racist. It fails to critically challenge racist stereotypes, including those that posit Black men as hypersexual and Asian American men as asexual. Individual, straight men of colour might achieve a modicum of masculine success by playing this “game” and repositioning themselves towards the center (defined by normative Whiteness),  but this doesn’t challenge the fundamental stereotypes upon which the entire misogylinist “game” is built. Even if some Asian American win, all Asian American men still lose because the “game” is fundamentally rigged against us.

The solution that brings actual uplift of Asian American men – and all men of colour – is to stop playing. It is to change the rules.

– From “Masculinity vs. “Misogylinity”: what Asian Americans can learn from #UCSB shooting”

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Memorial Day: Remembering Soldiers of Color [The Throwback]

In honor of the U.S. celebrating Memorial Day today, we are reprinting this 2012 piece featuring veterans from many of our communities

We’ll begin with a video that was shown here in San Diego earlier this year, at a celebration of the Congressional Gold Medal awarded two years ago to the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and and U.S. Military Intelligence Service (MIS). The unit, composed mostly of Japanese-Americans, would see heavy action during World War II in Europe, and would go on to produce 21 Medal of Honor recipients. This unit’s exploits were chronicled in fictional form in the film Only The Brave, the trailer of which can be seen here.

[Note: One video under the cut auto-plays, but is SFW.]
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Model Minority Suicide: Five Reasons, Five Ways

By Guest Contributor Scot Nakagawa, cross-posted from RaceFiles

It’s time to kill the Asian American model minority myth, and I mean really kill it.

That myth is one of the tenets of American racism, used repeatedly for decades to promote the idea that racism and structural racial disadvantage are either non-existent or at least entirely surmountable, while suggesting that some people of color, and Black people in particular, are just whiners unwilling to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. And that belief, that the black poor are just entitlement junkies, has negative consequences for all poor people because the tough “love” solutions this belief inspires, like cutting back on food stamps and other programs, see no color.

For Asian Americans, killing the myth requires destroying the veil of elevated expectations and assumptions that surround us to reveal the real face of our richly diverse communities and experiences. I call it model minority suicide. Need convincing?
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